'Well, knock me down with a gold-plated feather. The latest chairman of HS2, the most expensive mile-for-mile rail project of all time, has just told the permanent secretary at the Department for Transport (DfT) that the scheme can no longer be contained within its existing budget of £56 billion — which itself was almost double the original predicted cost.
The Financial Times has been leaked details of the letter from HS2's boss Allan Cook: apparently he told the top civil servant at that benighted department, Bernadette Kelly, that it's looking more like £85 billion (of which 'just' £4 billion has been spent so far).
Ms Kelly can hardly have been surprised, and nor should we be. It has long been obvious that this plan to make a relatively small country with high population density the site of the fastest train system in the world was a triumph of political vanity over geography, demography and economic logic.
According to the FT, those involved in the project have blamed this latest increase of billions in the budget on 'the costs of engineering the railway to a very high specification, and the further additional costs of it being designed to run at even higher speeds than other comparable rail projects'.
Oh, wait: it was originally going to be engineered to a low specification? And since it was always designed to run at record speeds of 360kph (224mph) — the clue is in the name 'High Speed 2' — it can only be in the spirit of satire that those involved are blaming the latest rise in its costs on a belated discovery that the trains are supposed to be jolly fast.
You could be forgiven for failing to notice, given the way the Conservative leadership race is consuming the media's attention, that last week someone quit his government job over HS2.
The Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, Bob Seely, resigned as a parliamentary private secretary because he couldn't in all conscience vote for the government's latest Bill advancing this bottomless pit of a project.
Seely, who denounced HS2 as a 'fantasy world of underestimated costs, overestimated revenues, overvalued local development effects and underestimated environmental impacts' called on Boris Johnson — likely to become Prime Minister this week — to scrap this most colossal of white elephants and reallocate these vast sums more wisely.'
Read more: Let's scrap HS2 and spend some of its ballooning billions on dementia care bills instead